PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT
- 1. Over and over again in what has already been
said, we have seen our dependence upon the Holy Spirit in prayer.
This comes out very definitely in Eph. 6:18, "Praying always with
all prayer and supplication IN THE SPIRIT," and in Jude 20,
"Praying IN THE HOLY GHOST." Indeed the whole secret of prayer is
found in these three words, "in the Spirit." It is the prayer that
God the Holy Spirit inspires that God the Father answers.
- The disciples did not know how to pray as they
ought, so they came to Jesus and said,"Lord teach us to pray." We
know not how to pray as we ought, but we have another Teacher and
Guide right at hand to help us (John 14:16,17), "The Spirit
helpeth our infirmity" (Rom. 8:26, R.V.). He teaches us how to
pray. True prayer is prayer in the Spirit; that is, the prayer the
Spirit inspires and directs. When we come into God's presence we
should recognize "our infirmity," our ignorance of what we should
pray for or how we should pray for it, and in the consciousness of
our utter inability to pray aright we should look up to the Holy
Spirit, casting ourselves utterly upon Him to direct our prayers,
to lead out our desires and to guide our utterance of them.
Nothing can be more foolish in prayer than to rush heedlessly into
God's presence, and ask the first thing that comes into our mind,
or that some thoughtless friend has asked us to pray for. When we
first come into God's presence we should be silent before Him. We
should look up to Him to send His Holy Spirit to teach us how to
pray. We must wait for the Holy Spirit, and surrender ourselves to
the Spirit, then we shall pray aright.
Oftentimes when we come to God in prayer, we do not feel like
praying. What shall one do in such a case? cease praying until he
does feel like it? Not at all. When we feel least like praying is
the time when we most need to pray. We should wait quietly before
God and tell Him how cold and prayerless our hearts are, and look
up to Him and trust Him and expect Him to send the Holy Spirit to
warm our hearts and draw them out in prayer. It will not be long
before the glow of the Spirit's presence will fill our hearts, and
we will begin to pray with freedom, directness, earnestness and
power. Many of the most blessed seasons of prayer I have ever
known have begun with a feeling of utter deadness and
prayerlessness, but in my helplessness and coldness I have cast
myself upon God, and looked to Him to send His Holy Spirit to
teach me to pray, and He has done it.
> When we pray in the Spirit, we will pray for the right things
and in the right way. There will be joy and power in our prayer.
- 2. If we are to pray with power we must pray
WITH FAITH. In Mark 11:24 Jesus says, "Therefore I say unto you,
What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye
receive them, and ye shall have them." No matter how positive any
promise of God's Word may be, we will not enjoy it in actual
experience unless we confidently expect its fulfillment in answer
to our prayer. "If any of you lack wisdom," says James, "let him
ask of God that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not;
and it shall be given him." Now that promise is as positive as a
promise can be, but the next verse adds, "But let him ask in
faith, nothing doubting: for he that doubteth is like the surge of
the sea driven by the wind and tossed. For let not that man think
that he shall receive anything of the Lord." (R.V.) There must
then be confident unwavering expectation. But there is a faith
that goes beyond expectation, that believes that the prayer is
heard and the promise granted. This comes out in the Revised
Version of Mark 11:24, "Therefore I say unto you, All things
whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye HAVE received
them, and ye shall have them."
- But how can one get this faith?
Let us say with all emphasis, it cannot be pumped up. Many a one
reads this promise about the prayer of faith, and then asks for
things that he desires and tries to make himself believe that God
has heard the prayer. This ends only in disappointment, for it is
not real faith and the thing is not granted. It is at this point
that many people make a collapse of faith altogether by trying to
work up faith by an effort of their will, and as the thing they
made themselves believe they expected to get is not given, the
very foundation of faith is oftentimes undermined.
But how does real faith come?
Rom 10:17 answers the question: "So then faith cometh by hearing,
and hearing BY THE WORD OF GOD." If we are to have real faith, we
must study the Word of God and find out what is promised, then
simply believe the promises of God. Faith must have a warrant.
Trying to believe something that you want to believe is not faith.
Believing what God says in His Word is faith. If I am to have
faith when I pray, I must find some promise in the Word of God on
which to rest my faith. Faith furthermore comes through the
Spirit. The Spirit knows the will of God, and if I pray in the
Spirit, and look to the Spirit to teach me God's will, He will
lead me out in prayer along the line of that will, and give me
faith that the prayer is to be answered; but in no case does real
faith come by simply determining that you are going to get the
thing that you want to get.
> If there is no promise in the Word of God, and no clear leading
of the Spirit, there can be no real faith, and there should be no
upbraiding of self for lack of faith in such a case. But if the
thing desired is promised in the Word of God, we may well upbraid
ourselves for lack of faith if we doubt; for we are making God a
liar by doubting His Word.